Harris County Sheriff's Office

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Harris County Sheriff's Office
TX - Harris County Sheriff.jpg
TX - Harris County Sheriff Badge.png
Abbreviation HCSO
Agency overview
Formed 1837
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction Harris County, Texas, Texas, United States
Legal jurisdiction Harris County, Texas
General nature • Local civilian agency
Headquarters 1200 Baker St. Houston, TX 77002

Sworn members 2,545
Unsworn members 1,000
Sheriff responsible
  • Ed Gonzalez
Agency executive
  • Edison Toquica, Chief Deputy
3 Helicopters OH-58 Kiowa
Harris County Sheriff's Office Website

The Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) is a local law enforcement agency serving the over four million citizens of Harris County, Texas, United States. It is headquartered on the first and second floors in the 1200 Baker Street Jail in Downtown Houston.[1]

As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 4.1 million, making it the most populous county in Texas and the third most populous county in the United States. Its county seat is Houston. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has approximately 3,500 employees and is the largest sheriff’s office in the state of Texas and the sixth largest in the nation. The number one and two largest sheriff’s offices in the nation are respectively the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in California and the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Illinois. The third, fourth, and fifth are the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Florida, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office in Florida, and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department in California.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is the primary law enforcement agency in the 1,118 square miles (2,900 km2) of unincorporated area of Harris County, serving as the equivalent of the county police for the approximately 1,071,485 people living in the unincorporated areas of the county. In Texas, sheriffs and their deputies are fully empowered peace officers with county-wide jurisdiction and thus, may legally exercise their authority in unincorporated and incorporated areas of their county; they primarily provide law enforcement services for only the unincorporated areas of a county, while yielding to municipal police or city marshals to provide law enforcement services for the incorporated areas. Sheriffs and their deputies also have statewide warrantless arrest powers for any criminal offense (except certain traffic offenses) committed within their presence or view.[2] They also may make arrests with a warrant anywhere in the state.[3] In an emergency, sheriffs along with mayors and district judges are empowered by state law to call forth the National Guard to preserve the peace.[4]

The jurisdiction of the Harris County Sheriff's Office often overlaps with several other law enforcement agencies, among them the Texas Highway Patrol, the eight Harris County Constable Precincts, and several municipal police agencies including the city of Houston Police Department. The duties of a Texas sheriff generally include keeping the county jail, providing bailiffs for the county and district courts within his county and serving process issued by said courts, and providing general law enforcement services to residents. The current sheriff of Harris County is Ed Gonzalez, elected in 2016 and took office on January 1, 2017.


The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is divided into ten bureaus: Executive, Patrol, Patrol Support Services, Detective, Public Services, Detentions, Field Operations Support, Human Resources, Support Services and Homeland Security. Each bureau, commanded by a major, performs essential functions for the department. Each bureau is further divided into divisions/sections.

  • Executive Bureau
    • Internal Affairs Division
    • Public Information Office
  • Patrol Bureau
    • District 1
    • District 2
    • District 3
    • District 4
    • District 5
  • Patrol Support Service Bureau
    • Traffic Enforcement Division
    • Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit
    • Crime Control Division/Hot Spot Unit
    • Park Patrol Division
    • Canine Unit
    • Marine Division
    • Dive Team
    • Motorist Assistance Program (M.A.P.)
  • Criminal Investigations Bureau
    • Sex Crimes Unit
    • Auto Theft
    • Burglary & Theft
    • Crime Scene Unit
    • Criminal Warrants Division
    • Domestic Violence
    • Homicide
    • Covert Operations Division - Narcotics/Vice Unit
    • Runaways
    • Sex Crimes Offenders Registration
    • Victims Assistance
  • Detention Bureau
    • 1200 Baker Street Jail
    • 701 San Jacinto Street Jail
    • 1307 Baker Street Jail
  • Public Services Bureau
    • Courts Division
    • Prisoner Logistics Command
      • Inmate Processing Center
      • Central Records
      • Transportation Division
  • Reserve Command
  • Field Operations Support Services Bureau
    • Communications Division
    • Investigative Support Division
  • Support Services Bureau
    • Inmate Affairs
    • Medical Division
    • Support Services
  • Human Resources Bureau
    • Recruiting and Background Investigations
    • Academy
    • Personnel Services
    • Family Assistance Unit
    • Uniform Supply and Inventory Control
    • Career Development
    • Business Office
    • Network Administration
  • Homeland Security Bureau
    • Bomb Unit
    • High Risk Operations Unit
    • Marine Unit
    • Aviation Unit


Traffic Division

John Moore was sworn in as the first sheriff of what was then called Harrisburg County (later renamed Harris County) in February 1837. Among the oldest law enforcement agencies in Texas, the department has grown from a single man on horseback to a modern agency with 3500 employees, including over 2500 sworn officers.

Harris County sheriffs:

Name Dates
John W. Moore 1837-1841
John Fitzgerald 1841-1843
Mangus T. Rodgers 1844-1846
David Russell 1846-1850
James B. Hogan 1850-1854
Thomas M. Hogan 1854-1856
John R. Grymes 1856-1858
George W. Frazier 1858-1861
B.P. Lanham 1861-1865
John Proudfoot 1866
Irvin Capters Lord 1866
A.B. Hall 1866-1873
Sam S. Ashe 1873-1875
Cornelius M. Noble 1876-1883
John J. Fant 1884-1886
George W. Ellis 1887-1895
Albert Erichson 1896
W. M. Baugh 1897-1898
Archie Anderson 1899-1912
Marion F. Hammond 1913-1918
Thomas A. Binford 1919-1936
Norfleet Hill 1937-1942
Neal Polk 1942-1948
Clairville "Buster" Kern 1949-1972
Jack Heard 1973-1984
Johnny Klevenhagen 1985-1995
Tommy Thomas 1995-2009
Adrian Garcia 2009–2015
Ron Hickman 2015-2017
Ed Gonzalez 2017-

Controversies and misconduct[edit]

Body cavity search of Charnesia Corley[edit]

On June 21, 2015, Charnesia Corley, 21, was pulled over by Harris County Sheriff's department officers at around 10:30PM in Houston for running a stop sign while driving to a store. During the traffic stop, the deputy reportedly smelled marijuana in Corley's car. Corley was detained and her car searched, but no marijuana was found. The deputy then called other two other officers, both female, to perform a body cavity search of Corley. The female officers then proceed to manually search Corley's vagina in public. Harris County Sheriff's Office alleges that Corely assented to the search, which Corley denies and attests that the officers used force and threats of violence to perform an illegal search, and compared the treatment to being sexually assaulted. Officers eventually found 0.02 ounces of marijuana in Corley's possession (though they did not specify where it was found) and she was eventually charged with resisting arrest and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors; Corley had no previous criminal record. As of August 5, 2015 Corley is currently planning to file a complaint with the Harris County Sheriff's Office's Internal Affairs Division.[5][6]


These are the ranks of the Harris County Sheriff's Office:

Title Insignia
4 Gold Stars.svg
Chief Deputy
3 Gold Stars.svg
Assistant Chief Deputy
2 Gold Stars.svg
US-O4 insignia.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
Harris County, TX Sergeant.jpg
Detention Officer / Jailer

Those with the rank of sergeant and above are issued gold badges. Deputies are issued silver badges. Detention officers (jailers) wear white uniform shirts and are issued a silver badge and Detention Officer Sergeants are issued gold badges and wear red stripes . Academy cadets wear a white uniform shirt with a cloth badge.

Promotion to the ranks of sergeant through captain are made via a civil service testing process that includes a written exam and an oral review board. Chief deputies and majors are appointed by the sheriff.

Reserve Command[edit]

The HCSO Reserve Command is the largest sheriff's reserve organization in Texas and second nationally only to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Other departments throughout the nation have copied the HCSO Reserve program as an effective way to increase available personnel without capital expenditures. The monetary savings of the HCSO reserve Command to Harris County totals more than $100 million over the last 40 years.

HCSO Reserve deputies have the same training, legal authority and responsibilities as full-time HCSO deputies except that they volunteer their services and are not monetarily compensated.

Reserve deputies work in all areas of the HCSO, including Patrol, Criminal Warrants, Criminal Investigations, Fugitive Transports, Tactical Medicine, and Marine Patrol, to name a few. Approximately 200 citizens from all walks of life currently form the Harris County Sheriff's Office Reserve Command. They include engineers, mechanics, doctors, corporate managers, and lawyers. Some reservists previously worked as regular law enforcement officers and many regular deputies began their career as a reserve deputy.

Deputies in the HCSO Reserve Patrol Bureau work policing the 5 patrol districts in the unincorporated areas of Harris County. This area has a population of about 1.5 million residents, and it continues to grow.

When new deputies are assigned to patrol, they enter a field training program which trains them to execute all of the duties of a solo patrol deputy, including, but not limited to, traffic accident investigations, arrest procedures, answering calls for service, issuance of traffic citations, and preparing offense reports. Reserve patrol deputies who successfully complete the field training program may work patrol alone as a one-man patrol unit. While on patrol, reserve patrol deputies answer all types of calls and have the same duties as full-time, paid patrol deputies.

In addition to normal duties, reserve patrol deputies regularly address specific crime problems by executing proactive initiatives in specific areas. Past initiatives have targeted crimes such as drug trafficking, gang activity, street racing, DWI enforcement, and bar disturbances.

Experienced reserve patrol deputies also serve as instructors, Intoxilyzer operators, firearms instructors, and field training officers. Some reserve patrol deputies join the HCSO Mounted Patrol and patrol on horseback at special events and parades.

In 2012, reserve patrol deputies answered over 15,000 calls for service, wrote more than 900 offense reports, issued over 500 citations, made more than 200 arrests, and carried out over a dozen patrol initiatives.

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the Harris County Sheriff's Department, 40 officers have died in the line of duty.[7]

Officer Date of death Details
Carl F. Courts
November 30, 1895
James A. Reed
September 6, 1905
Arthur Taylor
May 24, 1914
Accidental gunfire
William C. Williams Jr.
April 16, 1930
Accidental gunfire
Joe Trapolino
May 23, 1936
Theron Eldridge (Eddie) Shofner
July 14, 1948
Leo Busby
September 10, 1953
Automobile accident
Donald E. Knowlton
August 22, 1960
Walter Howard Harvey
November 5, 1962
Automobile accident
Fred B. Peebles
September 23, 1965
Vehicular assault
Edd Williams
January 12, 1974
Rodney Scott Morgan
February 26, 1974
Accidental gunfire
Jimmie Howard McKay Sr.
March 22, 1974
James A. Wier
August 18, 1978
Vehicle pursuit
Joe Mason Westbrook
July 1, 1979
Albert Ochoa Garza
July 30, 1979
Royce Melvin Anderson
October 26, 1981
Accidental gunfire
Reginald Floyd Norwood
September 3, 1985
Vehicle pursuit
Haskell Junior McCoy
February 2, 1987
Automobile accident
Clark Harold Henry
July 25, 1988
Automobile accident
Richard Maurice Blackwell
September 6, 1989
Motorcycle accident
Jeffery Scott Sanford
September 14, 1991
Ricky A. Yates
January 25, 1994
Motorcycle collision
Harvey Davis
May 21, 1996
Heart attack
Douglas John Noll
July 22, 1996
Vehicle pursuit
Randolph Michael Eng
December 21, 1996
Keith Alan Fricke
June 4, 1997
Motorcycle accident
Rebecca Ann Shaw
February 13, 1998
Struck by train
Oscar Clarence Hill IV
July 22, 2000
Vehicular assault
John Charles Risley
October 23, 2000
Barrett Travis Hill
December 4, 2000
Joseph Norman Dennis
May 22, 2001
Shane Ronald Bennett
June 12, 2002
Accidental gunfire
Thomas Flores Douglas
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Heart attack
Tommy L. Keen
September 15, 2008
Dionicio M. Camacho
October 23, 2009
Heart attack
Eddie L. Wotipka
June 10, 2010
Jesse "Trey" Valdez, III
October 29, 2014
Automobile; Narcotics involved
Tronoski Jones
August 20, 2015
Heart attack
Darren H Goforth
August 28, 2015

Correction facilities[edit]

The number of insane inmates in the jail increased since the Texas Legislature cut its community mental health services funding by $400 million in 2003. Between 2004 and 2009 the population of the Harris County jails increased from 7,648 to 11,546. From 2003 to 2011 the number of full-time psychiatrists increased from three to eleven. As of 2011 25% of prisoners require mental health services. Of them, 90% had been previously placed in the Harris County jail.[8]

Current facilities[edit]

The 1200 Jail, the headquarters of the agency

The Harris County Sheriff's Office's correction facilities are located in Downtown Houston, all within a block of one another.[9]

1200 Jail[edit]

The 1200 Jail (located at 1200 Baker Street) opened on January 23, 2003.[10] The 1200 Jail has the administrative offices of the Sheriff's Department. The building has 603,000 square feet (56,000 m2) of space, and it has a 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) parking garage. The facility, which has 4,156 regular beds, 124 beds for the Medical Division, and 96 beds for MHMRA, is one American football field deep and two American football fields in length. 430 sheriff's deputies and detention officers work at the facility. The facility houses an inmate classification center. Each floor has counseling rooms, MHMRA examination/interview rooms, multi-purpose rooms, a recreation area, triage rooms. The fourth floor houses women. The sixth floor houses a law library and vocational rooms. The jail offers New Choices, a substance abuse program.[11] The 1200 Jail includes a large medical clinic, a dental facility, an infirmary, mental health facilities, a pharmacy, an x-ray facility.[10]

701 Jail[edit]

The 701 Jail

The 701 Jail (located at 701 North San Jacinto Street) is one of the largest detention facilities in the United States.[12] The seven floor 701 Jail has 4,144 inmate beds. The 701 Jail, originally a five-story building to be used as a cold storage warehouse,[13] opened in the late 1920s. The Houston Terminal Warehouse and Cold Storage Facility was constantly occupied throughout its history. In 1989 the county completed the planning and design stage of its new jail. The cold storage portion was allowed to thaw, and construction on the facility began in December of that year.[12] The facility was gutted and two floors were added.[13] The 701 Jail opened in August 1991.[12] Harris County stated that the re-use of the warehouse saved the county about $21,000,000. About 600 sheriff's deputies and detention officers work in the facility. The county designates the 701 Jail as a "Direct Observation" facility, where staff members monitor inmates continuously for 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.[13] In 2002 the 701 Jail was the second largest American jail, with the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department being the largest.[14]

1307 Jail[edit]

The 1307 Jail (located at 1307 Baker Street[14]), located east of the 701 Jail, was originally built as a state jail for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.[15] The building was at first occupied by the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. The building reopened under the Sheriff's office in 1998.[14] As of 2010 the Harris County Sheriff's Office is leasing the facility. The 1,070 inmate beds are located in two wings. The county designates this jail as a "Semi-Direct Observation," where staff members monitor inmates in the dormitory area continuously for twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. One lieutenant, nine sergeants, and 112 sheriff's deputies and detention officers staff the jail. The jail also has the Farm Shop, a place where stray livestock confiscated by the Sheriff are kept.[15]

Former facilities[edit]

The 850,000 square feet (79,000 m2) 1301 Franklin facility opened on September 13, 1982.[16] The county built the jail due to the aftermath of the early 1980s Alberti lawsuit.[17] The jail, with 13 stories and a basement, had the HCSO's administrative offices. The facility opened on September 13, 1982 and had the capacity to house around 4,000 inmates.[16] After the opening of the 1200 Jail on January 23, 2003, the former Franklin facility was no longer used as a jail.[10] Currently the HCSO's Crime Scene Unit, Emergency Dispatch Center(EDC), Warrants and A.F.I.S is housed in the building.[18]

The 301 San Jacinto facility is a former jail. Before 1982 a portion of the 3rd floor had the headquarters of the HCSO. Three floors housed inmates. The basement had the booking, kitchen, laundry, and releasing areas. The commissary operated in a room on one of the housing floors. The Alberti lawsuit forced the county to build additional jails. In 2002 400 trustees were housed in the top four floors in the building. As of the same year administrative offices, court processing/holding cells, and visitation facilities were in the basement.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The 1200 Jail." Harris County, Texas. Accessed September 12, 2008. "The Sheriff's Office and Administration including the Business Office, Central Patrol, Human Resources, Public Services, Support Services and the Sheriffs Special Assistant are housed on the first and second floors outside of the security perimeter."
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ http://abc13.com/news/woman-accuses-officer-of-going-too-far-during-traffic-stop/905180/
  6. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/11/texas-woman-accuses-police-sexual-assault-body-cavity-strip-search
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ Hart, Patricia Kilday. "Mental health facility? The county jail." Houston Chronicle. Tuesday November 15, 2011. Retrieved on November 23, 2011.
  9. ^ "Inmate Visitation Policies." Harris County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.
  10. ^ a b c "Medical." Harris County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.
  11. ^ "The 1200 Jail." Harris County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.
  12. ^ a b c "701 North San Jacinto." Harris County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.
  13. ^ a b c "The 701 Jail." Harris County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c "Harris County Jail System." Harris County Sheriff's Office. February 12, 2003. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.
  15. ^ a b "The 1307 Jail," Harris County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.
  16. ^ a b "1301 Franklin facility." Harris County Sheriff's Office. February 22, 2003. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.
  17. ^ a b "301 San Jacinto." Harris County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.
  18. ^ "Crime Scene Unit." Harris County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved on May 28, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]